MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are triglycerides whose fatty acids have an aliphatic tail of 8–12 carbon atoms. In other words, MCT oil is a combination of medium chain fatty acids that contain 8, 10 and 12 Carbon atoms - C8 (Caprylic acid), C10 (Capric acid) and C12 (Lauric acid). While C12 is technically a medium chain fatty acid, in terms of how it functions it is actually a long chain. That's why you need to look for an MCT oil that is almost completely C8 and C10 only. More information is available in my other blog on the subject.
Use and Benefits
Medium-chain triglycerides are generally considered a good biologically inert source of energy that the human body finds reasonably easy to metabolize. They have potentially beneficial attributes in protein metabolism too. MCTs passively diffuse from the GI tract to the portal system (longer fatty acids are absorbed into the lymphatic system) without requirement for modification like long-chain fatty acids or very-long-chain fatty acids. In addition, MCTs do not require bile salts for digestion.
Some studies have shown that MCTs can help in the process of excess calorie burning, thus weight loss. MCTs are also seen as promoting fat oxidation and reduced food intake.
MCT is an excellent carrier for oil for all essential oils. It is great to use for all types of skin care, bath and body care products and to make natural perfumes as it is very light and is absorbed easily into skin. Having no odor or color it doesn’t affect your formulations. It softens and moisturizes the skin and promotes healthy hair and complexion.
MCT oil is also wonderful when used in massage formulas and is quickly becoming a favorite of many Massage therapists.
Just like Jojoba and the Coconut oils, MCT has a VERY long shelf life since it is a fully saturated oil.
How is it manufactured?
Coconut oil is about 9% C10 and 6% C8. By using a process called 'Fractionation', it is possible to separate the C8 and C10 fatty acids from Coconut oil. The MCT oil so manufactured is also called Fractionated Coconut oil. People tend to confuse this oil with the Coconut oil itself. Cheap versions of this MCT oil will also include C12 since it is available in abundance (about 50%) within the Coconut oil and can be separated using the same fractionation process.
MCT oil can also be made from Palm oil. The Coconut tree and Palm tree are actually cousins within the palm family. However, Palm oil has practically no C8 and C10, and only has traces of C12. It is mostly made up of C15 and C18 chains. Therefore, one can't obtain MCT oil by fractionating Palm oil. But it is possible to combine Palm oil with coconut/ palm derived Glycerin in a process called 'esterification' to obtain the C8 and C10 chains. (It is necessary to be sure that the esterification process is done in a responsible manner from a health and environment perspective. That is why, MCT oil manufactured using the esterification method is subject to the REACH regulation. The Palm-derived MCT oil carried by Organic Verdana meets REACH regulation).